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The adjective denotes some characteristic of an object, interpreted either as a quality (positive or negative, objective or subjective), or as a space, time, quantity etc. coordinate. There are several kinds of adjectives, e.g.

Demonstrative: this, these, that, those

Indefinite: some, any

Negative: no

Distributive: each, every, either, neither

Quantitative: some, any, no, little, few, many, much

Interrogative: which, what, whose

Possessive: my, your, his, her, its, our, your, their

Of quality: good, red, simple, political, medical, remarkable, easy, beautiful etc.

1. Adjectives of quality

1.1. Various classifications of adjectives

A. According to form, adjectives can be:

simple, e.g. good, red, simple, nice, early, positive, negative, sombre, sober, modern, ready, wide, fat, far, fresh, new, soft, old, late, dark etc.

compound, e.g.

adjective + adjective: light blue, dark brown, Anglo-Saxon, red-hot, deaf-mute, politico-economic, icy-cold, lukewarm etc.

adjective + present participle: good-looking, easy-going, early-rising, dark-looking, hard-working, high-flying etc.

derivatives, e.g. mechanical, customary, profitable, chgildish, economic, moneyless, short-sighted, inspiration, exploitation, unpronounceable, reflective, womanhood, sufficient etc.

adjective + past participle: clean-cut, clean-shaven, deep-seated, far-fetched, far-gone, fresh-oiled, high-strung, modern-built, ready-made, true-born, widespread, newfound, soft-spoken, short-lived, long-lived etc.

noun + adjective: bloodthirsty, night-blind, colour-blind, football-mad, carefree, duty-free, waterproof, light-proof, homesick, watertight, train-sick etc.

noun + present participle: heart-breaking, awe-inspiring, breath-taking, earth-shaking, freedom-loving, soul-destroying etc.

noun + past participle: man-made, home-made, frost-bitten, wind-shaken, awe-struck, god-forbidden, spellbound, horror-struck, airborne, communist infiltrated, factory-packed etc.

pronoun (self/all) + adjective/noun: self-assertive, self-conscious, self-evident, self-important, self-pleased, self-sufficient, all-fair, all-black, all-holy, all-complete, all-just, all-action, all-cash, all-electric, all-female, all-male, all-rubber, all-steel, all-woman, all- wool, etc.

pronoun (self/all) + present participle: all-affecting, all-arranging, all-binding, all-destroying, self-destroying, self-killing, self-serving, all-absorbing, all-consuming, all-demanding, all-engulfing, all-knowing, all-loving, all-pervading, all-prevailing, all-seeing etc.

adjective (frequently in the comparative of superiority) + most: innermost, uppermost, farthermost, inmost (=all these are superlatives).

well + past participle/adverb: well-acquainted, well-adjusted, well-advised, well-affected, well-appointed, well-balanced, well-behaved, well-beloved, well-born, well-chosen, well-conditioned, well-built, well-connected, well-covered, well-cut, well-defined, well-deserved, well-endowed, well-earned, well-established, well-fed, well-grounded, well-groomed, well-informed, well-intentioned, well-kept, well-mannered, well-matched, well-off etc.

ill + past participle/preposition + adjective: ill-at-ease, ill-advised, ill-affected, ill-assorted, ill-behaved, ill-bred, ill-considered, ill-defined, ill-disposed, ill-favoured, ill-founded, ill-gotten, ill-humoured, ill-judged, ill-mannered, ill-natured, ill-starred, ill-timed etc.

derivatives, e.g. mechanical, customary, profitable, childish, economic, moneyless, short-sighted, inspiration, exploitation, unpronounceable, reflective, womanhood, sufficient etc

complex adjectives (composition + derivation), i.e. adjective + noun +[-ed] e.g. pig-headed, white-skinned, kind-hearted, blue-eyed, large-windowed, heavy-walled, dark-skinned etc.

without formal indices, (simple or compound) i.e. the adjectives in this class are not marked for the morphological class they belong to, e.g. dear, good, nice, far, high, fast, direct, near, clean, bad, simple, light blue, Anglo-Saxon, clean-cut, waterproof, self-evident etc.

with formal indices, (derivatives or complex adjectives) i.e. adjectives in this class have a special ending that makes them identifiable as adjectives; the rules of suffixation are complex, but for obvious reasons they need not be given here. The most productive adjective-forming suffixes are:

- able/-ible - attaches to noun and verb bases, e.g. comfortable, fashionable, honourable, knowledgeable, pleasurable, valuable, charitable, hospitable, miserable, personable, reasonable etc.

- al - attaches to nouns, e.g. accidental, additional, classical, continental, departmental, emotional, experimental, fanatical, historical, institutional, mechanical, musical, oriental, political, residential, statistical, sentimental, traditional, transitional, vocational etc.

- an/-ian/-n - attaches to names of places to describe someone or something that comes from that place: African, American, Arabian, Asian, Austrian, Brazilian, Californian, Chilean, Cuban, Egyptian, European, Hungarian, Indian, Italian, Jamaican, Korean, Nigerian, Romanian, Russian, Scandinavian, Syrian etc.

- ary/-ery - attaches mainly to nouns, e.g. cautionary, complementary, complimentary, customary, disciplinary, honorary, legendary, momentary, parliamentary, planetary, rudimentary, salutary, secondary, voluntary etc.

- based - attaches to nouns, e.g. acid-based, class-based, education-based, export-based, market-based, money-based, nuclear-based, protein-based, water-based etc. or to adjectives/adverbs, e.g. broad-based, broadly-based, firmly-based, solidly-based, soundly-based, widely-based etc.

- bound - attaches to nouns, e.g. class-bound, culture-bound, desk-bound, duty-bound, earthbound, fog-bound, home-bound, honour-bound, house-bound, snowbound, tradition-bound, wheelchair-bound, westbound, city-bound, London-bound, inbound etc.

- esque - attaches to proper nouns of famous people, e.g. Beethovenesque, Chaplinesque, Dantesque, Hydenesque, Hoffmanesque, Pinteresque, Rembrandtesque, Tarzanesque etc.

- fold - attaches to numerals, e.g. twofold, threefold, fourfold, sixfold, tenfold, eightfold etc.

- free - attaches to nouns, e.g. accident-free, additive-free, caffeine-free, carefree, crime-free, debt-free, disease-free, dust-free, duty-free, guilt-free, ice-free, meat-free, nuclear-free, oxygen-free, pain-free, rent-free, pollution-free, stress-free, sugar-free, tax-free, trouble-free etc.

- ful - attaches to nouns, e.g. beautiful, boastful, cheerful, deceitful, delightful, dutiful, forceful, graceful, harmful, helpful, hopeful, joyful, merciful, peaceful, playful, successful, shameful, tactful etc.

- ic - attaches to nouns, e.g. acidic, acrobatic, alcoholic, angelic, atomic, autocratic, democratic, diplomatic, enthusiastic, heroic, idiotic, ironic, linguistic, magnetic, patriotic, pedantic, photographic, poetic, artistic, capitalistic, idealistic, journalistic, nationalistic, opportunistic, etc.

- ish - attaches to proper/common nouns and adjectives, e.g. British, Danish, English, Finnish, Irish, Jewish, Polish, Scottish, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish; amateurish, babyish, boyish, childish, devilish etc.

- led - attaches to nouns and adjectives, e.g. American-led, communist-led, community-led, consumer-led, employee-led, investment-led, market-led, Muslim-led, moderate-led, opposition-led, worker-led etc.

- less - attaches to nouns, e.g. airless, brainless, childless, endless, flawless, harmless, heartless, helpless, hopeless, lifeless, meaningless, motherless, motionless, nameless, powerless, restless, seedless, speechless, spineless, tactless, tuneless etc.

- like - attaches to nouns, e.g. animal-like, baby-like, bird-like, childlike, clocklike, dagger-like, desert-like, dog-like, doll-like, dreamlike, flower-like, ladylike, prison-like, vice-like etc.

- made - attaches to nouns and adjectives, e.g. American-made, British-made, country-made, custom-made, factory-made, foreign-made, French-made, fresh-made, hand-made, home-made, machine-made, man-made, purpose-made, ready-made, tailor-made etc.

- minded - attaches to adjectives that refer to potential qualities of the human mind, e.g. absent-minded, broadminded, dirty-minded, evil-minded, generous-minded, liberal-minded, mean-minded, narrow-minded, open-minded, practical-minded, serious-minded, single-minded, strong-minded, tough-minded etc.

- most - attaches to adjectives (as an equivalent of the superlative relative form), e.g. easternmost, hindmost, innermost, lowermost, nethermost, northernmost, outermost, rearmost, southernmost, topmost, uppermost, westernmost etc.

- ous - attaches to nouns, e.g. adventurous, ambiguous, ambitious, anonymous, cautious, contemptuous, continuous, courageous, courteous, curious, dangerous, enormous, famous, furious, gracious, mysterious, nervous, obvious, previous, religious, serious, spontaneous, various etc.

- proof - attaches to nouns, e.g. accident-proof, bullet-proof, burglar-proof, child-proof, dust-proof, fire-proof, flameproof, frost-proof, greaseproof, heatproof, inflation-proof, leak-proof, rainproof etc.

- related - attaches to nouns, e.g. age-related, career-related, city-related, disaster-related, drink-related, drug-related, income-related, injury-related, job-related, oil-related, race-related, school-related, smoking-related, stress-related, tobacco-related, work-related etc.

- rich - attaches to nouns, e.g. carbon-rich, cash-rich, energy-rich, fat-rich, fiber-rich, information-rich, mineral-rich, nitrate-rich, nutrient-rich, oil-rich, oxygen-rich, protein-rich, resource-rich, sugar-rich etc.

- ridden - attaches to nouns, e.g. bullet-ridden, class-ridden, cliché-ridden, debt-ridden, draught-ridden, fear-ridden, flood-ridden, guilt-ridden, mouse-ridden, penalty-ridden, plague-ridden, rumour-ridden, scandal-ridden, storm-ridden, tension-ridden, terror-ridden etc.

- side - attaches to nouns, e.g. bedside, desk-side, dockside, fireside, graveside, hearthside, hillside, kerb-side, lakeside, mountainside, Oceanside, park-side, poolside, ringside, riverside, roadside etc.

- size/sized - attaches to nouns, e.g. apple-sized, button-sized, cat-sized, city-size, coin-sized, cottage-size, envelope-sized, finger-size, fist-sized, mansion-size, man-sized, page-size, pea-size, pin-size, postcard-sized etc.

- some - attaches to nouns and verbs, e.g. adventuresome, bothersome, burdensome, flavoursome, loathsome, lonesome, meddlesome, quarrelsome, venturesome, awesome, fearsome, irksome, tiresome, troublesome, wearisome, worrisome etc.

- stricken - attaches to nouns, e.g. awe-stricken, famine-stricken, fear-stricken, grief-stricken, guilt-stricken, horror-stricken, panic-stricken, plague-stricken, poverty-stricken, terror-stricken etc.

- style - attaches to nouns and adjectives, e.g. American-style, antique-style, baroque-style, British-style, buffet-style, bungalow-style, commando-style, English-style, European-style, military-style, modern-style, new-style, Tudor-style, Victorian-style etc.

- type - attaches to common/proper nouns and adjectives, e.g. academic-type, Burmese-type, church-type, European-type, executive-type, gothic-type, hormone-type, hospital-type, military-type, police-type, schoolboy-type, snack-type, war-type, Western-type etc.

- wright - attaches to nouns, e.g. Cartwright, millwright, playwright, shipwright, wainwright, wheelwright etc.

B. According to position adjectives can be attributive and predicative:

a) in attributive position adjectives can be placed before or after the noun/noun equivalent:

1. in general, adjectives precede the noun they modify, e.g. good girl, nice person, early train, interesting book, blue-eyed woman, Anglo-Saxon literature, elderly person, extreme sports etc. As far as the adjectives of quality are concerned (Thomson and Martinet, 1997: 35) the authors give a ²fairly usual order² of these, explaining that several variations are possible.

The adjective closest to the noun is marked a) and the most frequently encountered order is the following:

a) adjectives of size (except little),

b) adjectives of general description (excluding adjectives of personality and emotion),

c) adjectives of age and size,

d) adjectives of shape,

e) of colour,

f) of material,

g) of origin,

h) of purpose (these are usually gerunds used to form compounds: walking stick, riding boots, reading lamp, washing machine etc.); examples: a long sharp knife, a small square table, red velvet curtains, an old plastic bucket, an elegant Swiss clock etc.

Adjectives of personality and emotion come after adjectives of physical description, including dark, fair, pale, but before colours, e.g. a small suspicious official, a pale anxious girl, an inquisitive brown dog, a long patient queue, a kindly black doctor etc. The adjectives little, old and young are often used, not to give information, but as part of an adjective - noun combination. They are often placed next to their nouns, e.g.

Your son is a nice little boy (Fiul tau este un baietel dragut/simpatic).

That young man drives too fast (Tanarul acela conduce prea repede);

Adjectives that have one meaning when used attributively and another when (if) used predicatively. They belong to various subclasses, e.g.

NOTE: some of the adjectives listed below can have the same meaning when used attributively and predicatively. The reader should be aware that no classification can be perfectly delimited and this fact is true not only here but for all classifications in any grammar book.

Intensifiers (in the positive or negative sense): certain, pure, clear, mere, outright, sure, simple, true, real, definite, sheer, utter, complete, perfect, extreme, absolute, close, very, entire, firm total, great, strong etc; slight, feeble

Examples: A certain fact was not taken into consideration at all

You are a complete fool if you think that religious intolerance has been eradicated

He has donated his entire salary to the charity organisation helping the orphans

He did not make the slightest effort to help his family

A close friend of mine from France has recently visited Romania and found it extremely interesting

In a good detective story the reader discovers the criminal at the very end of the book

Restrictive adjectives: they restrict the reference of the noun, e.g. certain, precise, exact, former, old, present, occasional, small, late, hard, big, good, bad, excellent etc.

My former English teacher has just got married

We visited Ann yesterday and we met an old friend who had recently come back from China

John is a very bad swimmer

Small farmers should get more financial help from the government

Although very young and inexperienced, Tom is a hard worker

Little + old + noun is possible: a little old lady, but little + young is not. When used to give information, old and young occupy position c), e.g. a young coloured man, an old Welsh harp etc.

Adjectives of personality/emotion can precede or follow young/old, e.g. a young ambitious man/an ambitious young man, depending on what the speaker wants to emphasize, as the first adjective counting from left to right carries a stronger stress; the adjective little can be used similarly in position c), e.g. a handy little calculator, an expensive little hotel, a little sandy beach, a little grey foal; but small is usually better than little if size is emphasized.

The adjectives fine, lovely, nice and sometimes beautiful + adjectives of size, shape and temperature express approval of size, shape or temperature, e.g. a beautiful big room, a lovely warm house, fine big steaks, imply that the speaker likes big rooms, warm houses or big steaks. The above mentioned adjectives can be used similarly with a number of other adjectives: fine strong coffee, a lovely quiet beach, a nice dry day. When used predicatively, such pairs are separated by and, e.g.

The coffee was fine and strong;

The day was nice and dry.

Pretty is both an adjective and an adverb; followed by an adjective with no comma between them is an adverb of degree, meaning very/quite, e.g.

She is a pretty tall girl or

A tall, pretty girl (= a girl who is both tall an pretty).

2. There are, however, cases in which adjectives follow the nouns they modify, forming a sort of compounds, e.g. knight errant, attorney general, secretary general, court martial, those present/absent, poet laureate, literature proper etc.

b) in predicative position adjectives of quality follow a verb such as: be, become, seem, or verbs like appear, get/grow (= become), feel, keep, look (=appear), make, smell, sound, taste, turn, e.g.

Tom became rich;

Ann seems happy/nice;

Your mother has become impossible;

Tom felt cold;

He made her happy;

He got/grew impatient.

The idea sounds interesting;

They feel tired;

Adjectives in this position are called predicative adjectives while the verbs used in this way are called link verbs or copulas.

The verbs appear, get/grow (=become), feel, keep, look (=appear), make smell, sound, taste, turn when not used as link verbs can be modified by adverbs in the usual way, e.g.

He looked calm (adjective) =he had a calm expression

He looked calmly (adverb) at the angry crowd (looked =a deliberate action)

She turned pale (adjective) =she became pale

He turned angrily (adverb) to the man behind him (turned =a deliberate action)

The soup tasted horrible (adjective) =it had a horrible taste

He tasted the soup suspiciously (adverb) (tasted =a deliberate action)

According to this criterion, adjectives fall, mainly, into 4 different classes; the delimitation of the four classes is not perfect.

I.     Adjectives that can function as both attributes and predicatives and the meaning remains the same (Tom is a good student or The teacher is good)

II.     Adjectives that can function as both attributes and predicatives but whose meaning changes depending on the position (He is a little farmer compared to *The farmer is little)

III.     Adjectives (denominal adjectives) that can function as attributes and very rarely, if ever, as predicatives (medical, instrumental, historical etc.)

IV.     Adjectives that can function only as predicatives; all the adverbial adjectives, beginning in a- , e.g. afloat, adeck, ajar, alone etc. plus well or ill.

1.2. Substantivisation of adjectives

Quite a large number of adjectives referring to the human character or to the human condition can get a definite article (the) in order to represent a class of persons having the respective quality. These nouns have a plural meaning and take only a plural verb, e.g. blind, deaf, disabled, healthy, sick, living, dead, rich, poor, unemployed, wounded, quick, mute etc, e.g.

The poor are people who have a difficult life.

The mute and deaf are usually instructed in special schools;

The unemployed were put on a list with the view of finding jobs for them;

Adjectives denoting groups of people belonging to various nationalities (adjectives ending in -sh, -ch, -se, -ss) take a definite article and generate collective nouns denoting those groups of people. They are always written with a capital letter and take a plural verb, e.g. the French, the Dutch, the English, the Swiss, the Welsh, the Irish, the Burmese, the Siamese, the Chinese, the Japanese etc., e.g.

The French have a very good wine;

The Swiss make famous watches;

The Chinese are very good at cooking;

Other nationality adjectives take a definite article and a plural form, e.g. the Spaniards, the Italians, the Romanians, the Americans, the Russians, the Germans etc

Certain colours that refer to the skin colour of the people take a definite article and a plural form to denote: the whites, the blacks, the red-skinned etc.

There are occasional adjectives with a singular meaning, e.g. the accused, the unexpected etc.

1. Degrees of comparison

The forms assumed by an adjective to show that a quality may exist in various degrees with two objects or with one and the same object at different times are called degrees of comparison. There are three degrees of comparison in English, i.e. a) the positive degree, b) the comparative degree, and c) the superlative degree.

The positive degree is the basic form of the adjective, e.g.

That book is interesting;

Your sister is beautiful;

She has a nice dress;

The weather is dry;

The comparative expresses a comparison between two or more objects; when we compare things we may find that the quality exists in equal amount in two objects, and this is the comparative of equality; the form is as + an adjective in the positive degree + as, e.g.

This book is as interesting as the one you bought yesterday;

Her dress is as nice as mine.

The inequality of the quality expressed can be compared from either end, i.e. from the lower end or from the upper end; in the former situation, when the user views the comparison from the lower end a comparative of inferiority is implied; this can be done in various ways, i.e.

by negating the comparative of equality: not as/so + an adjective in the positive degree + as, e.g.

My book is not as/so interesting as yours,

Your sister is not as/so beautiful as Mary,

This ring is not as big as that one;

by using less + an adjective in the positive degree + than, e.g.

My book is less interesting than I thought,

Your sister is less beautiful than Mary,

* This ring is less big than that one is not incorrect, but the form with not so/as is more usual;

If the comparison is viewed from the upper end the form is called comparative of superiority*, and this can be done with a suffix (adjective in the positive degree + -er), or with an adverb (more + an adjective in the positive degree) + than, e.g.

Her dress is nicer than Mary's;

That book is more interesting than I thought;

The superlative shows that the quality of an object is in its highest degree; this can be seen as

relative* - when the object is chosen from a limited number of elements or a restricted area; the superlative relative is constructed either with a suffix (an adjective in the positive degree + -est) or with the adverb most + an adjective in the positive degree; in both cases the construction is preceded by the definite article the, e.g.

She is the nicest person in our class;

Mary is the most beautiful girl in our town;

This is the most interesting book on grammar of all the books you lent me;

The only two prepositions that can be used with the superlative relative are in (to select from a limited area) and of (to select from a group or a certain number of things);

absolute - when the quality exists in an object in the highest degree possible; the absolute superlative is made up of the adverb very + an adjective in the positive degree, e.g.

She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen;

This is the most expensive dress you could have bought;

You have a very interesting profession.

*SPELLING NOTE on the comparative of superiority and the superlative relative:

*Monosyllabic adjectives take the suffixes -er or -est to form the comparative of superiority and the superlative relative, e.g. nice/nicer/nicest, dry/drier/driest, big/bigger/biggest etc., except right, wrong, real, just which do not normally have degrees of comparison;

Plurisyllabic adjectives take only the adverbs more and the most, e.g. beautiful more beautiful, the most beautiful/interesting, more interesting, the most interesting etc;etc.

Bisyllabic adjectives take either one or the other of the two forms, depending on their ending, so

bisyllabic adjectives ending in -er, -y, -ly, ow, -ble/ple, e.g. clever/cleverer/cleverest, pretty/prettier/prettiest, holy/holier/ holiest, narrow/narrower/narrowest, noble/nobler/noblest, happy/ happier/ the happiest (but unhappy takes more and the most) etc; while

bisyllabic adjectives ending in -re and -ful take the adverbs more and the most, e.g. obscure/more obscure/the most obscure, careful/more careful/the most careful etc; certain adjectives ending in -ful can also take -er and -est, e.g. cheerful,cheerful(l)er, the cheerful(l)est or cheerful, more cheerful, the most cheerful etc.

Adjectives that can used in the comparative of superiority and the superlative relative by employing both formation patterns, i.e. by suffixation and with more and the most, e.g.

monosyllabic adjectives: free, calm, sound, vague, frank

disyllabic adjectives: angry, likely, healthy, friendly, happy, bitter, humble, noble narrow, handsome, pleasant, quiet, common etc

adjectives made negative by prefixes: unhappy, insincere, unpleasant, impolite etc.

The degrees of comparison of compound adjectives

To make it easier for the learners the comparative of superiority and the relative superlative of compound adjectives can be summarized as follows:

compound adjectives generally take more and the most, with a few exceptions that are better not mentioned here, e.g. intelligent-looking/more intelligent-looking/the most intelligent-looking, bad-looking/more bad-looking/ or worse-looking/the most bad-looking or the worst-looking, ill-advised/more ill-advised/the most ill-advised, ill-mannered/more ill-mannered/the most ill-mannered,, short-sighted/more short-sighted/the most short-sighted, strong-headed/more strong-headed/the most strong-headed, heart-broken/more heart-broken/the most heart-broken etc.

There are several adjectives that have irregular comparisons, e.g.

good, well better the best

bad(ly), ill worse the worst

little less the least

many, much more the most

far farther the farthest (of distance only)

further the furthest (used more widely)

near nearer the nearest / the next

old older the oldest (of people and things)

elder the eldest (of people only)

late later the latest

latter the last

hind hinder the hindmost/the hindermost

fore former the foremost

elder and eldest imply seniority rather than age. They are chiefly used for comparisons within family, i.e. brothers and sisters; elder refers to two elements while eldest implies more than two, e.g.     my elder brother(=I only have one brother who is older than me), her eldest son/daughter (=there are more than two brothers or sisters in the family) etc; but elder is not used with than, so older is necessary here, e.g.

He is older than I am/me (elder would not be possible).

In colloquial English with boys/girls/children, e.g.

His eldest son is at school, the other is still at home (he has only two sons). Although formally incorrect, this use is particularly common when eldest, oldest are used in constructions like the one above or Tom is the eldest.

Other constructions with comparisons

Parallel increase is expressed by the + comparative the + comparative, e.g.

House agent: "Do you want a big house?"

Ann: "Yes, the bigger, the better".

Tom: "But the smaller it is, the less it will cost to heat it",

The more expensive the book is, the more people will buy it etc.

Gradual increase or decrease is expressed by two comparatives joined by the conjunction and, e.g. The weather is getting warmer and more beautiful every year etc.

Gerunds and infinitives can be part of the comparison, e.g.

Riding a horse is not as easy as riding a motor cycle;

It is nicer/more fun to go with someone than to go alone;

Reading is easier than writing etc.

Comparisons with like and as - in theory like (a preposition) is used only with nouns, pronouns and gerunds, e.g.

He swims like a fish;

You look like a ghost;

Be like Peter: go jogging;

The windows were all barred - it was like being in prison; while as (a conjunction) is used when there is a finite verb, e.g.

Do as Peter does: go jogging;

Why don't you cycle to work as we do? But in colloquial English like is often used here instead of as: Cycle to work like we do.

Like + noun is a comparison while as + noun is actually what the noun says, e.g.

He worked like a slave (very hard, as slaves do) and

He worked as a slave (he was a slave);

She used her umbrella as a weapon (she struck him with it).

When the same verb is required before and after than/as an auxiliary can be used instead of the second verb, e.g.

I earn less than he does;

He knows more than I did at his age etc.

When the second sentence is reduced to subject (first and second persons, singular and plural: I, we, you) and verb, and there is no change of tense, it is usually possible to omit the verb, e.g.

I am not as old as you (are);

He has more time than I (have);

When than/as is followed by the third person (he, she, it, they) plus verb, the verb is normally kept, e.g.

You are stronger than he is;

She sings louder than he does.

In colloquial English however, it is customary to drop the pronoun in the nominative and the verb, and use the personal pronoun in the accusative: me, you, him, her, it, us, you, them only, e.g.

He has more time than me;

You are stronger than him;

These rules also apply to comparisons made with adverbs, e.g.

I swim better than he does/than him;

They work harder than we do/than us;

You can't type as fast as I can/as me.

1.1. Synonyms of the absolute superlative

The standard absolute superlative is constructed with the adverb very + an adjective in the positive degree. For many reasons, subjective and objective, there is a strong tendency to avoid the standard absolute superlative and use instead other forms and devices; the speaker has a large variety of options to choose from, each form being useful in one context or other:

a) adverbs like awfully, exceedingly, extremely, grossly, deeply, surprisingly, extraordinarily, highly, greatly, terribly, tremendously, mighty etc. are often used instead of the adverb very because the speaker feels that the standard form is, possibly, not strong enough for what he means, too formal, or because he needs a different form for the sake of diversity etc., e.g.

Father was extremely tired when he came home;

John Bell's novel was surprisingly interesting;

It is terribly cold there;

His presence there was mighty important for all of us

Mighty is the approximate equivalent of the Romanian tare used as an adverb for the absolute superlative, therefore it is usually thought of as a colloquial/popular form of the absolute superlative.

b) rather is an adverb that has several meanings which are distinguished by collocation. If the idea is accepted that adjectives as well as adverbs can mainly fall into 3 classes according to the extent they express something desirable, likeable etc. or something undesirable or negative, then rather is used with "positive" adjectives or adverbs, its meaning being nearly equivalent to very, e.g.

She is rather clever (= She is very clever);

The book you bought is a rather interesting one;

Her sister is a rather beautiful woman and an excellent actress;

It is a rather a good play is definitely a recommendation while

It is a fairly good play - would discourage others from going to see it.

c) quite is another adverb used instead of very in the following two instances:

1) used with a word or phrase which expresses the idea of completeness and which cannot be associated with the adverb very, e.g. all right, certain, determined, empty, finished, full, ready, right, sure, wrong etc., e.g.

I'm quite ready;

That bottle is quite empty;

She was quite certain about it;

You are quite right;

You are quite wrong about that.

with very "strong adjectives/adverbs" which cannot be associated with the adverb very, e.g. amazing(ly), extraordinary/ extraordinarily, horrible/horribly, perfect(ly), fantastic(ally), e.g.

It was quite extraordinary to hear it from him;

Don' be impatient, I'm quite ready etc.

d) most (without the) in front of adjectives (or adverbs) is not used to express a relative superlative but an absolute superlative equivalent with extremely, etc.

The doctor was most unhappy to tell the woman about her husband's accident (=extremely/very unhappy)

His fiance is most beautiful (=very beautiful)

e) prefixes are often used to make up a form that is very close to the standard absolute superlative, e.g. ultra-, extra-, over-, super-, hyper- etc.: ultracentral, ultramodern, ultramarine, ultrashort, superabundant, superfine, overactive, overambitious, overgenerous, oversensitive, hypersensitive, hyperactive, e.g.

She has an ultracentral apartment (very centrally placed);

They got everything from an overgenerous sponsor (very generous);

He's always been hyperactive etc.

f) an apparently analytical genitive is sometimes used to express the existence of a quality in the highest degree; the construction is not meant to be taken literally; it sometimes has an equivalent in Romanian and sometimes does not, e.g. a mountain of a wave (=un munte de val); it means that the wave was very high, and its association with the mountain suggests exactly this; a queer fish of a girl (=o zgatie de fata); a monster of a dog (un monstru de caine); that dungeon of a playroom (approx. O camera ca o inchisoare) etc. are constructions suggesting that there is a quality existing in the highest degree in the child, girl or dog etc.

g) the genitive of gradation which is a synonym of the absolute superlative, e.g. the book of books, the beauty of all beauties, the king of kings, the prince of princes etc.

h) combinations of prepositions and nouns, e.g. beyond/past/without compare (=dincolo de orice comparatie/fara termen de comparatie); without equal (=fara egal) etc., e.g.

That girl is beautiful beyond compare;

Our childhood with our grandparents was happy beyond compare/without equal;

i) the repetition of the same adjective/adverb suggests that the quality exists in the highest degree; this synonym of absolute superlative is sometimes used in poetry as a poetic device, e.g. My love's like a red, red rose (Robert Burns); again, children who do not master the standard absolute superlative very frequently express the same idea by repeating the adjective/adverb, e.g. . "and then we saw a big, big house" (=very big house); "the green, green grass of home";

j) the synonymic substitution for an absolute superlative; the two terms of the construction are synonyms and their association is meant to enhance the idea that the quality exists in the highest degree; these constructions are fixed forms, generally (but not always) having an equivalent in other languages, Romanian included, e.g. null and void (=nul si neavenit); safe and sound (teafar si nevatamat); hard and fast (very rigid, about a rule); each and every (absolut fiecare); far and away (categoric, fara indoiala); lord and master (domn si stapan) etc.

k) the hyperbole - this is an exaggerated statement made for effect and not intended to be taken literally, e.g. scared to death (=speriat de moarte); waves as high as Everest (=valuri cat muntii); immensely obliged (approx. din cale afara de obligati); full to the brim (=plin pana la buza); in this last example the adjective full is one of those that is not generally used with very (see quite) so the speaker must find an adequate construction to express an absolute superlative and the hyperbole is one of the solutions.

l) a superlative + adjective ending in -able/-ible (possible, imaginable etc.) construction enhances the idea of superlative, e.g.

That was the best movie possible;

This is the sweetest child imaginable

m) the simile - another class of synonyms of the absolute superlative - is a comparison of equality comparing elements belonging to different spheres of notions and is meant to emphasize a certain characteristic of one of the elements; these comparisons may differ from one language to another, although lots of them are identical in English and other languages; if it does not exist an identical form in the target language, the user must find an equivalent or skip the simile altogether if he cannot find one in the other language; these comparisons are very frequent in spoken English (and Romanian) and are the reflection of a certain culture; the items marked with an asterisk* have equivalents in Romanian, although they compare other objects than in English (sometimes there is no comparison implied); two asterisks** will mark the similes that are hard to translate into Romanian or do not have a straightforward equivalent in the target language:

1. Comparisons implying beings:

as agile as a monkey sprinten ca o maimuta

as blind as a bat* orb ca o cartita

as brave as a lion curajos ca un leu

as busy as a bee harnic ca o furnica/albina

as cunning as a fox viclean ca o vulpe

as drunk as a lord* beat crita etc.

2. Comparisons implying objects:

as bitter as gall amar ca fierea

as black as coal negru ca taciunele

as clear as crystal curat ca cristalul

as clean as a new pin** -

as clean as a whistle -

as cold as ice rece ca gheata

as cool as a cucumber ** -

as cross as two sticks** -

as dark as midnight negru/intunecat ca noaptea

as pretty as a picture frumoasa ca o cadra

as ugly as sin urat ca pacatul

as weak as water subtire ca apa

as white as snow/a sheet alb ca zapada/foaia

as pale as death palid ca un mort

l) the metaphor (or implicit comparison) is defined as a series of words meant to indicate something different from the literal meaning, e.g. He has the heart of a stone (=he is not easily moved); a bookworm is "un soarece de biblioteca"; "an oyster" is a person who does not talk; He is a fox; blowing hot and cold...; a naughty child is a "monkey" etc.

m) litotes - is the use of negative to express the contrary, e.g.

It is not bad! Actually means that something is very good;

He is not a coward (=somebody is very brave).

1.4. Adjective patterns

Adjectives can have different types of complement, such as

A. a prepositional phrase (I feel sorry for her);

B. a that-clause (Everybody is pleased that she is making such good progress);

C. a to-infinitive (I am glad to hear she is recovering).

A. Adjectives with a prepositional phrase - Adjectives have different prepositional complements: good at, ready for, afraid of, convinced of, interested in, keen on, close to, content with etc. A particular adjective requires a particular preposition that should be preserved in all instances. Adjectives with prepositions are often -ed or -ing adjectives, e.g. participial adjectives like: interested (in), worried (about)* (Leech, 1991: 215-216) etc.:

Planners are worried about the noise and dirt in our environment;

I may have sounded a bit annoyed at your failing to give me the information;

Would you be interested in writing an article for my series?;

My friends were only faintly conscious of foreign affairs;

Elvira was uncertain of what the words meant;

Industry is independent of natural conditions, while agriculture is continually dependent on the fluctuations of nature;

This product is based on confidential information etc.

B. Adjectives with a that - clause. Adjectives which take a that-clause as complement may have a) personal subjects or b) an introductory it as subject:

a) Adjectives with personal subjects - that is often omitted (zero that), e.g.

I'm sure (that) she can do it;

We are confident (that) she will have a distinguished academic career;

I'm glad (that) you can cheer her up a bit etc.

When the that-clause expresses a 'putative' idea (i.e. expressing joy, surprise, amazement etc) it contains should, e.g.

We are surprised that he should have to resign;

I'm amazed that somebody with his background should get the post.

The following adjectives can have a that-clauses as complement: certain, confident, proud, sad, alarmed, annoyed, astonished, disappointed, pleased etc. Such adjectives can also have a prepositional phrase as complement, e.g. annoyed at, certain of, pleased with etc. It is to be noted, though, that in English a preposition cannot introduce a that-clause; compare:

They were amazed that the cost should be so high <> They were amazed at the high cost.

b) Adjectives with introductory it as subject. Adjectives with that-clauses frequently have introductory it as subject, e.g.

It's a bit odd that the state he lives in has no university;

It's possible that we will be a little bit late;

It's true that she never turned up.

Other adjectives that can be followed both by it-constructions and that-clauses are: certain, curious, disconcerting, embarrassing, evident, extraordinary, fitting, fortunate, frightening, important, irritating, likely, cold, obvious, possible, probable, sad, shocking, surprising, true etc. After adjectives that express a putative idea the that-clause also contains should or a verb in the subjunctive proper, e.g.

The school board considered it essential that the opinions of teachers should be ascertained/ that the opinions of teachers be ascertained.

C. Adjectives with a to-infinitive construction. According to (Leech, 1992: 216, 217) there are mainly, 4 types of different adjectives which have a construction with to-infinitive. The meaning of the 4 constructions are different as can be seen from the paraphrases, e.g.

a) She is wrong to say a thing like that (It's wrong of her to say a thing like that);

b) Such people are hard to find nowadays (It's hard to find such people nowadays);

c) I was delighted to make that personal contact (It made me delighted to make that personal contact);

d) Many dealers were quick to purchase the new shares (Many dealers quickly purchased the new shares)

a) Other adjectives like wrong are: clever, good, kind, naughty, nice, rude, silly, splendid, stupid, e.g.

He was silly to go ahead with the plan;

They were stupid not to take the opportunity offered;

He was clever to follow your advice.

b) Other adjectives like hard are: convenient, enjoyable, fun, good, pleasant, difficult, easy, impossible, surprised, e.g.

The extent of this tendency is difficult to assess;

All this is very easy to arrange;

Your question is impossible to answer etc.

The construction with introductory it is more common and sometimes the only possible alternative, e.g.

It is difficult to assess the extent of this tendency;

It was really good to see you before Christmas;

It is impossible to say that in English etc.

c) Other adjectives like delightfed are: amazed, angry, annoyed, disappointed, surprised, worried, furious, glad, pleased, sorry etc., e.g.

She will be furious to see him behave that way;

I'm glad to see you looking so well;

I'm very sorry to hear that Hattie has been ill etc.

d) Other examples of adjectives like quick are: willing, careful, prompt, slow, quick etc., e.g.

Nick is willing to do hard work (=he does it willingly);

They were careful to avoid all mention of the child (=carefully avoided);

They were prompt to act (=acted promptly);

This student is bright but rather slow to pick up new ideas etc.

There are also other adjectives which take an infinitive construction but do not fit into the     types described, e.g.

I might be able to afford it;

She is now very anxious to return to the university;

There are bound to be social and economic differences between distant parts of the country;

He was always ready to listen to the views of others;

I have been unable to contact him during the past week or so;

2. Relative adjectives

Another modifier of the noun/noun equivalent is the relative adjective, so called because it shows qualities characterizing an object by referring it to another object. Generally, relative adjectives are used attributively and do not have degrees of comparison, e.g. a brick house, a wooden hut, a silk dress, a stone wall, a gold mine; the general meaning is that of "made of" or "containing" .

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